BY ASHLEY SPRAGUE
If you’re a Waterloo Region resident, then you’ve probably heard of the parties that happen on Ezra Avenue. If you’re not born and raised here, then, being a student, you will probably hear of them soon. Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, and during Wilfrid Laurier University’s homecoming, thousands celebrate on Ezra in Waterloo. This year’s homecoming attracted 12,000 partiers. The day after, the streets are riddled with red Solo cups, empty beer cans and paper wristbands that have stamps that read “Ezra” on them. Students from all three post-secondary schools in the area join in on the fun overseen by Waterloo Regional Police and the campus police at Laurier. Thousands of young adults come to Ezra to celebrate, and if you’re lucky, you’ll receive a wristband to attend one of the house parties on the street. The party starts at 7 a.m. and isn’t over until the last few students are stumbling home well after the sun goes down. Is this annual bash just “kids being kids” or is St. Patrick’s Day and homecoming really something to celebrate?
For years, parties on Ezra have been monitored by police to keep kids safe, and in recent years they have tried to stop these parties from happening.
In 2015, the region put a ban on all street parties, and forbid students from attending any on the well-known street. The students didn’t let that scare them and the party still happened. Because of the large mass of attendees, the police have to be careful not to get the crowd riled, so, in more recent years, officers have been there only to make sure everyone stays safe. In 2017, 150 provincial offences were laid and six criminal charges during the massive party. These bashes cost taxpayers thousands of dollars due to 350 hours in police overtime; firefighters and paramedics were also on hand to keep the party safe.
Because Ezra consists of mostly student housing, noise complaints are minimal. Driving past the area you may hear the faint chant of “it’s great to be a Laurier Golden Hawk” along with the jumble of music playing from the yards of the students who live there.
The comradery that happens between the three schools on “Ezra days” only happens twice a year, and definitely should be something worth celebrating. As for the complete disarray of the area afterwards; the trash is cleaned up by student volunteers and some of Laurier’s student union.
I say, as long as everyone is respectful and stays safe, keep Ezra alive.